Hunkered Down…

This is a scary, unprecedented time we are living in, no one has a playbook for all that we are experiencing as a nation.  There are lots of opinions, lots of fur flying, lots of accusations, and lots of personal stories.  I use social media to some extent, I have more than 2200 friends on Facebook, many I don’t know, but most are either local friends, family or friends from the global fiber community, which makes me feel connected to a wonderful creative and thoughtful group of people. 

I pay attention to the news.  Peripherally.  I read the morning paper, I listen to NPR on the hour while listening to a public radio classical station.  I glance at news feeds from the AP and Reuters, and have subscriptions to the Washington Post and NY Times.  But mostly I just read the local NJ paper in the morning and get on with my day.  

Of course, NJ now has the second highest Covid-19 cases in the US, and the numbers double every other day.  It isn’t a question of if we will all get it, it is when and can the local hospitals handle the volume of really sick people.  So far it isn’t looking so good.  

That said, I turn to Facebook to see what my fiber friends are doing, to laugh, to find out what’s happening in their lives.  I love seeing photos of sunsets, snowy landscapes, spring blooming, handspun yarn, the latest tapestry or yardage or dishtowel on your loom, inspiration, cat and dog photos, grandchildren photos, wickedly funny cartoons, and for a brief half hour, I feel connected.  What I despise is seeing every other post an angry share of what the government is or is not doing depending on which side of the fence you are sitting on.  And I have dear friends who sit on both sides of that fence.  I’ve started hiding posts that have been shared from any news source.  That doesn’t seem to be helping.  Next effort is to start unfollowing friends who continue to rage at the news.  I get the news.  I get it from sources I trust to be truthful and informative.  Please share with me what you are working on, what happens in your personal lives, and breathe a little.  There is nothing much any of us can do but vote in November.

And so I will share what’s happening with me since this time of self quarantining.  To be perfectly honest here, and I’m a little embarrassed to even write this,  I have never been happier.  My entire calendar has been cancelled into June, and I’m waiting to see what happens with those workshops.  As much as I love my life, the travel, the students, the one thing I find myself desperately trying to find, is time.  Time to smell the proverbial roses.  Time to do some of the fun things I want to do.  Time to work in my studio, time to play an instrument or read or garden or just hang out.  And look at Facebook.  There is some gorgeous inspirational stuff out there if you can weed through the angry reposts.  

We continue to revamp the studio spaces, this morning the electricians came to repair the line to the shed, which will be a lovely woodshop, because well, you can’t have enough play places in the house. My electricians were desperate for work, and they would mostly be outside and in the crawl space, and I could communicate with them from the deck.  And Brianna and I last weekend, drove over to the storage unit, which is where all of my son’s belongings are held, to retrieve her couch.  Her beloved 400 pound monster of a couch, that belonged to her grandmother, that she won’t part with.  My friend with a truck, keeping his distance, brought over my trailer, and met us at the storage unit.  Brianna and I wheeled the sofa out of the unit on a couple of dollies.  The sofa sat in the trailer on the side of the house.  I had arranged for help getting it up to the second floor, but that help fell through.  So I looked at my daughter, and said, well, we are two strong and inventive women, (she is much stronger than I, but we are use to moving looms) and with a little bit of physics, and some brute strength on her part, we hauled that baby across the back yard, up the deck stairs, up the balcony stairs, turned it on its end to get it into my bedroom, rotated it in a contorted way, down the hall, up more stairs, and by removing a couple of doors, we managed to get it into her new bedroom, my old studio.  We hurt, we were exhausted, but we felt really accomplished.  Give two women no choice and see what they can do…

My days are simple, I get up, tend to the dogs, have my morning tea and look at the paper, and then I get to work.  I get to play in my lovely new studios, I have stuff to play with, and I stop for meals when I’m hungry. I run the vacuum occasionally, because I have three dogs and a cat and a fiber studio and my housekeeper is working from home, she sent instructions! (I stole that from Facebook).  My daughter is here, learning Illustrator, so we can begin to explore digitizing my patterns and making them available for download.  We are a long way away from that actually happening, but I have time now.  

There is always the fear that of course I or my children, who both live with me will get sick.  My son works 15 hour days at a high volume Target.  He is exposed to all kinds of craziness.  But I don’t live in fear.  I take each day as a gift.  I’ve been through a lot of drama and trauma in my life.  This too shall eventually pass.  For now, I had time to plant pansies and my garden is full of cold weather greens.  And the winter was so mild that my rosemary wintered over.

I have time to practice my recorder.  I’m trying to learn to play the Brandenburg Concerto #3, on Alto recorder, for a potential concert in December.  Challenging, but I have time to practice.  

I have time to read in the evenings.  I’ve read Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng, and Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover. Both excellent reads.  I’m currently reading a southern ghost story, quite the beach read, called Winter Cottage by Mary Ellen Taylor (It was a $1.99 download).  An entertaining escape.  And we always have a 1000 piece puzzle going in the corner of the living room.

I have time to knit, I finished a summer shell I’ve been working on for too long, Harrisville silk and wool and their Rhodora pattern.  Just needs blocking and then the handwork and edge finishes.  

Started a new sweater, using Cascade Yarns Venezia Sport, Merino and Silk.  The pattern is from C2Knits, Greta.  I’ve wanted to make this one for a long time.  

And I took this handwoven yardage from last year and made a skirt.  The yardage is called Vertical Barriers.  It has multiple warps, mostly rayons, some hand dyed.  I used up a lot of stuff that was hiding out on the shelves.  The weft is some very old Maypole Nehalem Worsted 3 ply wool.  So the fabric fulled quite nicely.  There were only about 3 yards by the time I was finished, but there was some width to work with.  24epi.

Meanwhile, I wanted to create a swing skirt from  my swing dress pattern.  As I’m almost 65 years old, I do not have a waist, and skirts with waistbands are stupid at my age.  I much prefer a shaped waist facing, way more comfortable and easy to customize.  This was the original dress, and the resulting test skirt.  

I got to wear the skirt for our in house St. Patrick’s Day celebration, we had corned beef, cabbage, Irish Soda Bread and lots of Guinness.  

I wanted the reverse shaped waist facing to be more proportionate, but it couldn’t sit any lower, because there are pockets of course.  So I funneled the waist, shortened the darts a bit, and dove into the Vertical Barriers Yardage.  It was a challenge to cut out, because things had to match.  And there is a drop lining.  I had an old piece of rust colored Ultrasuede in the stash, which made for a lovely reverse waist facing.  The fit is so very comfortable.  And yes, I knit the sweater, from a silk wool mill end, doubled, in seed stitch, using a C2Knits pattern for the fit.

And now I’m off to explore a test garment, for the swing dress with sleeves.  Each new piece I do gives me about 20 new ideas.  Which is how life should be.  No matter how much I’m quarantined, there will never be enough hours for all the stuff that runs through my head.

Stay tuned…



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Linda Shinn
Linda Shinn
March 25, 2020 2:50 pm

My Rosemary also overwintered for the first time ever! And I still have parsley and green oregano coming up from last year. The parsley will soon bolt so new plants are started.
I’m inspired by your sewing! Love the skirt!

Susan Dunne-Lederhaas
Susan Dunne-Lederhaas
March 25, 2020 3:12 pm

Wow!! What do you eat for breakfast to have this much energy? I really do enjoy your mastery of the fiber arts in many varieties.. So pleased your kiddos are with you.. My son, Matthew is moving back to the East Coast after 20+years on the West Coast.. I am so looking forward to his presence and his wife again…

Carol Horkay Lewis
Carol Horkay Lewis
March 25, 2020 4:32 pm

Sounds like you are really making the best of the situation. I am impressed by the couch story!. I guess I missed the part about you moving your studio. I can’t begin to imagine.
Always fun to hear from you!

Carol Van Sant
Carol Van Sant
March 25, 2020 4:56 pm

It’s so good to hear from you. I thoroughly enjoy your posts. I have been weaving too, and I managed to cut material from sheets for two of your vest patterns from MAFA. I can’t wait to see how they fit! Enjoy the gift of time and the company of your children. I understand the worry about your son. My son is an engineer working in a manufacturing plant in South Carolina and my daughter is a PA in the Lehigh Valley. All we can do is hope and pray. Stay safe and I hope to see you sooner rather… Read more »

Robin Pascal
Robin Pascal
March 25, 2020 5:15 pm

We are very lucky to have things to do during this. I feel sorry for folks who do not do handwork.

Joan Anderson
Joan Anderson
March 25, 2020 6:37 pm

A friend emailed me that we knitters, spinners and weavers have been training for just such an event as sheltering in place. So true…we can keeps our hands and minds busy, no boredom here nor with you.

Nancy Weber
Nancy Weber
March 25, 2020 7:56 pm

Wow — moving that couch was a tremendous effort — and well worth the exhaustion at the end. Sounds like your St. Patrick’s Day party was, well, fun! So glad that both of the kids are with you. And, you have TIME to get some of the things done that are on your ever-longer list of wants-to-do things. The new swing skirt looks like it will have lots of possibilities — stay with it! Hugs and stay well,

March 25, 2020 11:36 pm

I love catching up with you through your posts and couldn’t agree with you more about the “news” on FB. I have been blocking and rethinking the posts of “friends” as well and will look for you the next time I’m scrolling through. We will fight our way past all this and in the mean time my loom hasn’t been so busy. Looking forward to your next post.

Jenny Sethman
Jenny Sethman
March 26, 2020 8:06 am

You’ve inspired me to stop reading all the scary news and bust through my projects.
And my parsley, rosemary, and oregano are all back. Gotta love mild winters.

March 26, 2020 9:30 am

I look at this like a very long snow day…and that makes it more fun to stay inside and play. Newspapers and NPR and basically all I need for news… and your blog! Love that skirt and the “at my age skirts with waistbands are stupid” remark – so true!

Amy Myers
March 26, 2020 11:05 am

Your plants are well ahead of mine!
At the moment I am stuck wondering which of my many knitting stash projects to tackle first, but I’m sure that question will get sorted out soon! The big hope is to also use this time to begin weaving again… Thanks for the inspiration!

March 26, 2020 11:19 am

Thank you for your positivity. I left Facebook over a year ago, and it’s amazing how much more time I have now! I’m lucky to be in pretty good health and had a haircut right before this all started, so other than a delay for knee replacement I’m good. Im working on a sweater that has been on time-out for three years. I made some modifications to the pattern & frogged about half of my previous work, and have almost gotten back to where I started. And I’ve gotten all my trees pruned. Every day I give thanks for all… Read more »

Sharon Allworth
Sharon Allworth
March 26, 2020 2:01 pm

Moving that couch was quite a feat for you and your daughter. I know. My daughter, age 49, passed away in September. Moving her 25-year-old trans-daughter into her house so she could live with her brother brought feats of strength we didn’t know we had. You are so right – put a few women together, add a husband (mine – who is willing to help) and voila, anything can happen. So glad your new arrangement is working out. My grandkids’ arrangement now is too. Here in Oregon we are just getting up to speed with gardening. As usual, the spring… Read more »

Meg Wilson
March 26, 2020 9:34 pm

Well, the tomatoes are planted (staked and drip irrigation set out) and I have at least 15 little fruits started; thinning the mint and choosing the ones I like best from last year’s experimenting. Several petunias and my geranium made it through what we call winter…and the snap dragons and pansies I put out in January are glorious! I was actually weaving far more before the real quarantine came, but loving the option of doing nothing or something. We are knocking off some projects and I am about to put another short, 10-strand wire warp to weave earrings, just in… Read more »

Judy Sheppard
Judy Sheppard
April 2, 2020 11:05 pm

Hi Daryl, It sounds as though you have it all covered. As editor of my two Guilds’ newsletters and I am trying to impress the exact same idea to them in the latest issues. I am still busy knitting beanies, and a diagonal rug, I have to put some sort of edging on a crochet hand spun mohair shawl, that’s been waiting for a few months now! I have several embroidery projects on the go from my on line branch of the Canadian Embroiderer’s Guild and I also have a challenge for spinning from the On line branch of the… Read more »

Ingrid Crickmore
Ingrid Crickmore
July 2, 2023 2:02 am

Your skirts in this post are beautiful! Of course the fabric, but also the cut. Is there any chance you might make a pattern for your shop page?

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